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The bad news is that if the toxic person is your boss, then you have a very, very tough situation. The good news is that it's not impossible. You do have options.
Table of contents
- A Hug for the Intern
- When The World's Best Teammate Becomes The Boss From Hell
- With a boss from hell, it's not just fight or flight
- Buy the Book
I am less constrained by the environment and I'm willing to push boundaries as I am less mindful about how I behave.
A Hug for the Intern
One predictor is if the boss himself is on the receiving end of abuse from his own superior, in what is known as the trickle-down effect. There are also some personality characteristics that have been linked to more abusive tendencies, such as narcissism or an elevated sense of entitlement.
But the predictor that stood out the most for Asst Prof Wee is power imbalance. When the power imbalance between a supervisor and employee is especially tilted in favour of the former, abuse is more likely to take place, he says. He explains: "As a subordinate, you are dependent on the leader, for things like promotions and endorsement. But the leader has several subordinates to rely on. But what about high-performing staff who threaten their supervisor's position, I asked. Could that result in a greater chance of abuse as well?
Mr Wee proposes that workers consider shifting the power dynamics through two ways. The first way is to increase the supervisor's dependence on the subordinate. Employees should find a way to make themselves more valuable to the boss, such as gaining expertise in a skill that no one has or providing information that others are not privy to, he says.
While he acknowledged that building a deep specialisation takes time, workers can still signal their value by volunteering for tasks that others do not want to do. But Mr Wee cautions: "Don't do things that are peripheral - focus on those central to the leader's goal. Another strategy that he suggests entails tapping existing social capital with co-workers, or what he calls a coalition formation.
Marcy, I know it must've been awful, but I couldn't help laughing when I pictured all the employees on stage, singing! Maybe I can laugh because I've worked for my share of maniacs. I once worked for a newspaper owner who was such a skinflint that his employees burned him in effigy every Halloween.
Another of my bosses really and truly believed in alien abductions. That was the big honking sign to me, that it was time to start sidling toward the door! I will have to check out your book - what a great way for you to put to use some negative experiences. Many thanks, Sid! Yes, Marcy, not-for-profit organizations certainly have their share of monster bosses.
Thanks, Sid - I've also learned that insane 'bosses' can pop up in volunteer settings - even in church. They're always destructive in the long run, and they are counter-productive leaders. I appreciate your comments here.
I'm guessing you could write a book about the horror stories you've seen. Thank you for sharing your story and the reality of difficult, impossible, and insane bosses. I had my share 5 in 8 years, just out of college. Then I had a truly great boss. He taught me how to be a great boss, and I've worked for myself since then.
But, in my consulting business, I've had to fire clients because of crazy bosses. A bad one recently was a mysogynist - not sexual harassment, but simply treating women so badly that I was unwilling to empower him.
When The World's Best Teammate Becomes The Boss From Hell
Many of my clients, though, especially in career coaching, have boss horror stories as bad as yours. May we learn to live without fear and find the job environment we deserve. Voted up and useful. Oh, wow - I absolutely know what you mean, likehoney - sorry you went thought that.
- Why Women Excel as Leaders.
- Sidelined (Entangled DigiTeen);
That is very typical of a dysfunctional person, and it's deadly when they're in positions of authority. Thanks for chiming in here! I had a very mentally unstable boss once. She was either your best friend or she hated you. She did have a mental disorder. He behavior was seen by others, many complained and she was never dealt with.
It felt like a battered worker. It was horrible. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Bernie - I think you summed up very well some of the contrasts between the 'managers as controllers' paradigms in the past and the 'nurture and develop' approach of more recent approaches. Congrats on being your own boss!!! And thanks, again, for stopping by! I have worked for good bosses and bad bosses in my time.
With a boss from hell, it's not just fight or flight
It seems the ones I get along best with are ones that nurture my intelligence and creative spirit, while the ones who stifle me tend to earn the seething boil that will eventually explode and has, on a few occasions and either get me fired or have me storming out the door in a rage that needs release of would likely explode in other ways that I would rather not contemplate or consider. It's interesting to note that I get along better with male bosses since female bosses seem to always want to assert control over my considerable male ego and that creates all kinds of friction.
Fortunately not all of my female bosses have been intimidated, though, and those are the ones I got along with the best. Fortunately, at this point in my life, I am self-employed and answer only to myself. It's not likely that I will be having those types of managerial discourses anytime in the near future. Hi, Marste - yes, a big piece of fallout from incompetent and evil bosses is the psychological damage it does to the victims otherwise known as employees in a sane world.
Just saw this hub and it got me thinking. I've been in IT most of my working life over 20 years and I've had all sorts of bosses, some good, some very good, some bad, some very bad.
In my opinion the most important quality a manager of people needs to have is man management. Sounds simple enough. After a period of time of being under valued, undermined and generally not appreciated my confidence levels hit rock bottom. Too funny! And a most astute observation - he was indeed a disaster. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Sounds like your boss is in dire need of an enema. Or a lobotomy. Wait a minute, in his case they are interchangable.
- The Boss from Hell?
- Beware of Mean and Crazy Bosses?
- How to Spot a Great Leader vs the Boss from Hell - Dr. Nancy?
- A Hug for the Intern;
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I'm also glad you haven't experienced this sort of thing, Ssq It is a type of craziness that leaves scars for many years. Thanks for your comments here! Wow, that's insane.
Glad I've never had a boss like that, but then again, I'm still young. Very thorough hub!
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Hi, amithak - some people thrive much better when they're self employed, and some feel stressed from the cyclical income it can create. It sounds like you've made the perfect choice for your goals - that is so great! You have covered great points..